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he finals for finalist for the 2012 national book awards in nonfiction. and why nations fail, two economists from harvard university examine why some nations are economically successful and others are not. visit booktv's website at booktv.org were our facebook page at facebook.com/booktv . >> coming up next, robert graysmith in his book "black fire: the true story of the original tom sawyer and of the mysterious fires that baptized gold rush-era san francisco", which immortalized mark twain and his book, the adventures of tom sawyer. mark twain defended mr. sawyer
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over cards and drinks. this is about 45 minutes. [applause] >> in the mornings i get up in the early dawn. and i have a desperate writing and drawing. and it's just the most exciting adventure. i've had 10 bucks. and believe it or not, i was 30 head of what i have shown. i am just having such a great time doing this stuff. so they asked me when i came here, what were my prerequisites for writing a book. it has to be simply that if i say i'm going to write it, it takes 15 years, i'm going to finish it. the other one is there can be another book. there can't be another book on
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the subject. i like the subject. rule that i have is let's say tom sawyer are mark twain came back today. and they would say, how do you know that? everything that went on, i want to make it as alive as i possibly can. when i got this idea was in 1991. i was reading and there may have been a paragraph about 40 firefighters back in 1852 when the ran the fire engines. in those days, there were no streetlights, lots of hills and they didn't agree to anything. they're like 40 to 50, sometimes as many as 80 men pulling these fire trucks.
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reproduced guys in pictures. so they carry fire to the fire. and i thought, that is such a poetic thing. the city had burned down 16 times by an arsonist. and i thought, who is this that? so basically i am a true crime writer. and then i found out one of these firemen, it was tom sawyer robinson, i think it is, that he had run with the very first volunteer fire department in california. back in new york where tom was a torch boy, he had been in
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competition with broderick. when he came west to make his fortune, he basically wanted to be a senator. tom came along and an assortment of the weirdest guys you ever saw -- heavyweight champs, gunslingers, con men, absolutely amazing people. and we are very close to it. that tom sawyer actually met him in may of 19 -- 1863. mark twain like to talk to tom because tom knew great stories. all these little little bits and pieces and stories, that is how long it took, 15 years.
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can you imagine? i do love it. it is so fun. i guess i could read you some now if you would like. this may take a second. i have never read in public before. so i will start with a quote from tom sawyer. here it is. if you want to know how to i come to figure in his book, eat knowledge of the reporter and raise his brandy. they were speaking of mark twain, of course. as i said, we moved on to telling stories. sam was mighty fond of children and whenever he saw little fellows fighting on the street, they would go to the saloon at night and described the whole
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situation. when they he says to me, i'm going to put you between the covers of a book one of these days, tom. go ahead, sam, i said. don't disgrace my name. so that is an interview with the real tom sawyer. october 23, 1898. he did multiple interviews. so this is the prologue. this will give you an idea of what we were just talking about. it was the first that tom sawyer had ever seen a train looking glum. igloos jointed body, fiery hair, long black looking cigar and a mustache. he rangy rangy man. he didn't really walk, but he gambled and plotted his way to the back alleys of san
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francisco. his normal dress was careless and disheveled. his clothes were unrushed and freckled with tobacco. his chest was a nomadic forest of hair. mark twain's eyes squinted like an eagle. on this rainy afternoon in june of 1863, mark twain was nursing a bad hangover inside the montgomery street steam room. the journalists regularly went to this area to sweat out any dark thoughts of suicidal temptations which were not uncommon. tom sawyer's was the reason locl bona fide hero. in the clouds of steam, tom
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sawyer was mending his own words, though his work from a nearly fatal ordeal board a steamboat a decade earlier. in contrast to the lanky mark twain, tom sawyer was a stocky and round faced person. his repeated lies were comfortable to get into and his hair was a dark brown shock with sideburns. his body was smooth and his chest was hairless. without definition, though he could attack him and easily. mark twain's mustache and goatee were unimpressive. he wore a coat of smoke and soot, which is the three men played poker, to meet their bare feet, there was a secret tunnel. under that, a huge raft upon which the massive granite building floated.
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two doors down and a half a block away later murders corner. in early may, he took a two-month visit to john briggs and eight former classmate in hannibal. and literally took hours. a thorough fare he likened to just like being on main street in hannibal and meaningful familiar faces. the montgomery block block dominated montgomery and washington streets. number 722 and 724 montgomery. it had been a gold rush tobacco warehouse and now the man, mark
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twain, setting his cars. it was cold and sweaty in his palm. he took a swig. a few droplets caught in his horseshoe mustache, and he left them there. he spoke and he had become addicted on the mississippi. he contributed his own cloud and by the barrel for $4, he held a cigar poison the air and scattered the vapor with a long
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sweep of his arms. mark twain had acquired a steam bath in virginia city. while laboring under bronchitis and a series called, 8 miles northwest from the road between virginia city and steamboat springs, a distance of 7 miles. over a long line of beautiful columns, there was a large house constructed to be then. [inaudible] gave me a boiling and surging noise exactly as a steam steamboat bed. sawyer traded and a hot mess.
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the boards were damp from the sweat running down his arms. in his 32 years, sawyer had been a torch boy. new york engine company number 14. san francisco had grown and battled fire under chief david broderick and first fire chief. he served with other engine houses and toiled as a steamboat engineer in the mexican tea tray. mark twain, who held strong opinions perked up when sawyer mentioned he had worked as a steamboat engineer. the question and the boy in the steamer environment, such a job, he said knowingly. in the boiling steam room, he pointed out the suffocating
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temperature of the furnace room in a narrow space between two rows of furnaces which glare like the fires of hell. he shoveled in 140 degrees fahrenheit. sawyer survived twice that long, five years, which is the average, which was because he was a fireman of every sense of the word. you furnaces in every aspect of combustion intimately. stronger track, the thicker the fire should be. his face lit up in the clouds of steam as he warmed to the topic. no hollow places are allowed to form under it, and the temperature increases as fuel reaches its state of brilliant white incandescents.
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sawyer could tell temperature within a few degrees by the coals color. 90 degrees fahrenheit, cherry red indicated 1470 degrees. the orange meant the temperature exceeded 2000 degrees. [inaudible] if the temperature was climbing beyond the limits, it had to be kept down. before sawyer abandoned and forgot, he had made a brief attempt at attempting a fortune in gold mines with john mckay who did strike it big. but not until much later. by then, the bonanza was sloshed and he had been unusually lucky in that pursuit. he had gotten back to steamship
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engine or necessity. when he returned to san francisco in 1859, he became a special common homeland and was appointed as the yard keeper. though sawyer never realize his dream of becoming the foreman, it was all politics, there, he said. he had achieved a lofty position. he was a fire bell ringer in the tower elevated. [inaudible] is part of a volunteer fire company company that he helped organize a year earlier. every steep hill and twisting road ahead since the building
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was erected and before that he was living here when james williams, the self-righteous muckraking editor of the bulletin was gunned down out front. james casey, a former fireman with a criminal past in the streets of new york. he was laid out on the counter. his huge head lolled to one side of the lot. as he lay dying, his headlong over the stained table. when he died, the vigilance committee said the city aflame. he held strong opinions.
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he vigorously opposed a number of his patrons, especially the prominent lawyers and judges who are not too adhering to the law and order. many were heated arguments almost a danger point. local author polly jacobson wrote of it. when i first started working in san francisco in february of 1850, sawyer continued, i wanted to be an engineer on a steamer. mark twain nodded in disapproval but got sidetracked in performing the honest business of fighting fire and training a gang of ragtag adolescent boys. the city needed volunteers and runners. sawyer's life saving acts of courage aboard a steamboat, which mark twain had a
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particular horror, awaken the journalist at night and set him shaking cloud of cigar smoke. for that reason he had sweat rolling down his brow. his story of fire and explosion on board the steamboat independence. in which hundreds died. the steamer was launched in new york city on christmas day of 1850. it did not reach sentences go for the first time until september 17, 1851. a white trail almost abandoned. between houses peer and clay street wharf. the exhaust steam escape into
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the air like a virginia city hot spring. i'm going to leave out the shipwreck, which is pretty horrible. tom sawyer actually swam the people sure on his back through swarms of sharks. he is credited with saving 90 people. i'm thinking about 150 died. and then they were shipwrecked for a while. he came back to san francisco. that is when he was making his mark. he went back and came back in 1859. i thought you might enjoy this. a bit of chapter one. this is about when gay broderick came to san francisco to start a fire company.
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he had 49 shoulder strikers and they nudged people at the election polls and got them to vote for the way broderick wanted to achieve things. he figured out that nobody was missing money. he figured out he could do well. he is now in san francisco on christmas eve. he is seeing the city for the first time. i will give you this little bit, and i will see how this goes. in san francisco, roderick awaken before dawn. many had trailed after san francisco. the early morning stillness had made him contemplative. it is independently wealthy.
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so what was he to do now? went to the window, still recovering from the onus that he had contracted which kept him from his friend, stephen said. pulling aside the curtain, he saw the rain had stopped. it was a godsend. northeast of san francisco, four fifths of san francisco lay underwater. allowing passengers to enter their second city story hotel room by window. the 50 inches of icy wind and shotgun blast of black hail that had pummeled san francisco all winter had not misspelled the dreams of its citizens. they talked. heads filled with nightmares of what would happen when the
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downpour ended. they listen to the faint cracking of things and they watched the watch the clear glass of their lamp chimneys black and instead of being warm. they feared the worst. they dreaded the high winds off the bay nor the inclination to buy any water, maybe that san francisco would burn that would come after winter, six weeks without rain. san francisco springs would be much different, but the results would be the same. from his window, broderick made at the end of the road where father mounted and heat. these abandoned vessels had transported hundreds of
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thousands who had made the thousand ships orphaned. the callous callous hands of a stonecutter, the practiced hands of a rough-and-tumble politician and ballroom brawler. during the night, the ex-firefighter had slumbered difficultly. feeling all around him the thin boards shaking in the rising wind. how tightly it had stretched his nerves. broderick knew the dangers san francisco-based, even if most of the citizens didn't want to now. as in most man-made disasters, there is an indication of the tragedy to come. someone had burned the hotel in january on june 14, 1849. two weeks after he first set foot in san francisco, someone had torched the philadelphia.
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a series of fires had gone people to thinking and no action was taken. it was hard and a little frightening. as christmas approached, people forgot something. instead, the shells of overpriced gifts and freshwater at $3 per barrel and crawled up before their fighters. none were willing to take the phenomenal steps towards preventing the tragedy they so feared. in which broderick was experienced and knew was inevitable. instead, they press their noses against the window panes and watch black water flowed on the muddy streets to the shallow code. a horse shoe shaped bite in the western shore filled with abandoned ship. -- >> i have written another book that deals with these.
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between 1849 and 1851 ,-com,-com ma a perfectly good ship, people that got into the gold rush -- they jump overboard. they are not going to wait a second. they are going to get up and mine the gold. they left behind all of the ships. 1000 ships left. so on these ships we had 10,000 people. again, no one had ever written about this. so we have a gentleman with cows and sermons. you know, they had gangsters and refugees and it was absolutely -- to me, it was the first real setting since having a fight down the middle of the street. it is fascinating and takes place at the same time. there is a scene in the book -- and this is a true story, where
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tom realizes that they have no equipment. and if you go in at night, you can find axes and all the things that they need to take san to san francisco, and that's what he did. afterwards, other fire companies, there were eventually 14 of them, the fires completely destroyed the city. and they started rebuilding. unfortunately, all kinds of things caught fire. the problems with the wind and the rain -- is gain of 49 bugs are the only thing that stood between san francisco and complete destruction. where the transamerica building is now, there were granite buildings with double windows. but it took expires to capture the arsonist and there's more to that story. that is when the fires out.
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to me, we wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for broderick and his gang and tom sawyer. just these incredible people. the interesting thing is that every one of them met a tragic end. they were either shot down or deported or -- they were actually murdered in some cases. broderick was in a duel and favoring his gonzo one fire properly. so these were rough and tough times with the toughest of man. an absolutely fascinating fascinating to me. i feel it when i'm writing a book, these are my friends. you know, you look up and they are walking around. and i like to think i'm doing them justice. i am not trained as a writer, i'm trained as an artist. but it is -- it's a little bit more difficult for me. so usually do about 10 or 11 drafts. usually a 1000 page book.
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so i will leave you with this little tiny opening of the restaurant. the day before christmas 1849, broderick had terrible thoughts. the ex-firefighter saw the road outside come to light. during the calling of ducks and geese tramping sleepily through the deep mud to the square. three sides of the square were taken out. thrown together hotels and flammable roofs. playing music full blast. only on the fourth and upper side of the square but god taken a small foothold in the adobe building where the reverend preached in thunder. the way of the transgressor is horrid. a great calamity was surely to the fall great tinderbox called
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san francisco. reverend taylor was rarely wrong. the building material was all combustible. no fire engines and no water, except very deep wells. is it not enough to make a very prudent man tremble? ..
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even the paintings on the canvas walls were executed in oil. in october and november the wagering power tromps as the orioles soaked rag ready to burst into flame at the touch of a match. 5:45 a.m. and the fledgling blaze was first noticed my all it was disseminated among the solutions in five hours virtually no monster which in itself was unusual and fortuitous since the greatest threat to the city would of been an aggressive wind of the sea planning. but first the fall as the alarm
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was across the square the news was met by silence at the city hotel on the southwest corner of the streets. it was a large adobe general merchandise store on the southeast corner and at the crockett building on the northeast corner. by day these are busy hub is. the gambling rim's and saloom said close at near donley and its repeated gamblers staggered home. they were at the st. francis hotel on the southwest corner of clay and dupont. all the guests were asleep. the only sign of activity was between clay and sacramento street. a handful of early rising vegetable merchant and wine cellars setting up the stalls for the whispered alarm and one absently took up the crotty and passed it on the conversation. notice how the fire curls along
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the beach as he put his great down in the mud. the house in the union are on fire, too. another added matter of fact. the dogs began to gel in the tiny fire bell rang out. in the window they start to get the first and observed the smoke curling up word that indicated the fresh fire. from its collar he could estimate its temperature and from experience knew what such a hot fire could do. breathlessly he dragged on his trousers and hi routes and put his hat on his head and rushed out. the instant he reached the square he began shouting in the bucket brigade fortunately in those days everything to the east of montgomery street was under water. cold water between washington and clay that ran from the northeast side of the square and he went halfway to jackson. so a few buckets were available but the brigade had the can best
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boxes and container that held water and he used his hat. i try to keep this short. i personally love every part of this book. so, it's always a little bit detailed. my drawings which i'm proud of, we didn't use them all but - and you can probably see the of millions of lines and i am pretty strict when i work i don't like to -- if i make a mistake i do it over. it's a bit of a bug. let's see if i can find what i like to read one of the things that is unusual to says what they look like in the times and of course a year in a snap one of the pictures they really like
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to go with a drawing so we did that and i just thought there is one actually i can't find it this is my favorite person in the book. usually they are symbolic. the docks are down. i drew the docks of 1860 and linked the stories. i think my favorite part and i won't bore you with it but 20 gives a speech about the future of san francisco they hired him to laugh at the right spot the part of the speech i love is that it's very serious where they've gone and what happened to these men that say they are sitting and he sees the future
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of san francisco is bright and better than any city, the best state and city in the world, so i thought this is a wonderful piece of severance as though history that hadn't been told i try to put them all in here. i just want them to be incredibly grave and forgotten hero. tom did all kinds of legislation for the benefits of firemen. we have stories where there was a fireman and was very depressed and was a live rough life for these guys and they were committed suicide and tom sawyer knew he could count on, sutton became very famous because of his connection with twain coming and he opened a saloon called the original tom sawyer's and it's the southeast corner and when i came to the chronicle for political cartoonist in september 16th of 1968 came from
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the record -- they were remodeling the building. so they made us go to the southeast corner. so the work on the third floor and the second floor would have been tom's old bedroom and the ground floor was the original tom sawyer which burned in 1806. this is the guy that never got credit. i wrote a book about the woman that was in the shower. that wasn't janet reed, that was a model named morley and they wanted everybody to think that was. in one year i heard first of all she was dead. that was the amazing thing. she'd been murdered by a serial killer. i've got to give her credit. one year she was the cover of
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playboy. she was in the famous scene in a horror movie in psycho. she was one of the first ten in chicago. it was a great story so i am writing this book and they are time consuming and of course i wasn't as personally involved so it isn't as a successful book but it was a great story and a great woman, so finding clues may be somebody else was killed in her place saying i was the woman in the alfred hitchcock show in psycho so i went where she used to go to high school and they had gotten all together in las vegas and there is a remark, so about may be on a wednesday i think she's alive and i've been asking everywhere about it so i'm sitting there and yes she has to be alive so i'm writing a book about a woman and she's alive and the phone rings and the voice says this is
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morally. it would have killed me dead if she called on tuesday so i thought that's a cool thing here is a woman that's forgotten and very modest. she has one year of being a model. the other one that i enjoy the most which became a out of focus and i went to them nevada desert and i try to keep my word with people. i think people know that when they tell me stuff. i take everything. so i went back with a suitcase. i'm kidding i literally had to buy the ticket. it was so heavy nobody knew. this was a guy that got murdered. we have a new trial after 17 years, new evidence. it just came out it worked out extremely well, and again a fabulous movie. zodiac is just an absolute
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masterpiece and this one they did an incredible job and the only use a portion of my book. but i thought when just the luckiest guy in the world because i do love movies and we already got an option for this new book. so i can sort of see that big screen, the city, an incredible villain the light keeper and i got this idea because back when i was working for stock america we have a guy come in that must have been 90 and he got his picture taken and he was the sea captain and i thought to myself my god he mailed it because i wasn't sure we wanted to do. you can feel all of the salt and everything. i thought that's what i want to be like. we started talking about these five years in san francisco. he says we called him the light keeper. i don't know how many people use that but i like that title and
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he would always strike when the wind was blowing away. that's when they would like all of the torch's to the ship's so i stuck with that name and i have a few things like that but when you find out the secret of the light keeper you will be surprised and when i'm writing the book i have no idea who it was so at the end of the book for the first time in 950 years you will know the identity of the man that set fire to the city. it's a lot of fun. i guess i can take questions. we have read enough. [applause] if it's a thrill to be here. they're really is. it's hard to believe i used to come in here and shop all the time, and now i get to be here so it's a lot of fun. yes? >> [inaudible] >> i love my research. i wrote the first book on the unabomber, so my way of doing
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this is i got up there while the cabin was still there and the snow was clearing and they built a fence around it. the pictures of the fbi tried to figure out we have to take the cavan away, so they decide to build -- they are going to fly it out. did anybody ever see the wizard of oz's? so the built a road and it was months they were building the roads on the mountain, you know, and so i got to know the neighbors and i got in behind the fbi lines and i got to stay with the neighbors and they take me up on the snowmobiles and all terrain vehicles and in the five-year there's a big piece of wood and it's got all these mathematical symbols and his cellar where he tried to get his brother to go in this is what the neighbors left. they just loved this guy.
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i thought my god i would like to read a story about this guy interacting with people, carvings and it would be all black and sort of smelling bad to go through the town and all the dogs would chase him and he would be horrified and he would give -- any way what i did is anyplace he ever stayed all the hotels i rode the buses and i went to the library where he had used so we could never figure out why. sometimes he mailed it to somebody that they were not there anymore. but he always had a return address so the bomb would go back. so i had to know why were these things must address? so i go to this library. probably not as big as this room and i go to the reference of the books for one or two years out of date so he'd been going to this library and writing down the professors and the geneticists she wanted to get rid of and again the connection, so i like that because i had 100
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days to write the book and i simply immersed myself. i saw the letter that his brother wrote for the lawyers saying we noticed the similarities. i got a copy of the rough draft of the manifesto. i like to do that. so as far as i know, the next book is somebody else did a book on him like six or seven years and was about his time at harvard. i want to get everybody their money's worth. >> thank you. [applause] >> mother jones washington bureau chief david klein, his
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most recent book is called showdown, the inside story of how obama fought back against the team party. is the showdown referring to any specific incident or just politics in general? >> kind of both. the book is a behind-the-scenes account of what happened in the white house after the november 2010 election when republicans in the tea party through barack obama for lubber and controlled the house and everything that happened after that, the fight's over the budget and the debt ceiling and a deficit-reduction, also the reading and what happened in egypt and libya, and so i'm looking at how obama made the decisions he made and why he took the actions he took in that very perilous time politically but i also explained how this is all done in a way to set up the 2

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Book TV
CSPAN December 26, 2012 12:00am-12:45am EST

Robert Graysmith Education. (2012) 'Black Fire The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer and of the Mysterious Fires That Baptized Gold Rush-era San Francisco.'

TOPIC FREQUENCY San Francisco 22, Tom Sawyer 12, Sawyer 12, Broderick 9, Twain 7, Mark Twain 6, Washington 3, New York 3, Virginia City 3, Fbi 2, Adobe 2, Unrushed 1, Unimpressive 1, Unabomber 1, Sam 1, John Briggs 1, Alfred Hitchcock 1, Morley 1, Roderick 1, Obama 1
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